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Glass Door’s Women’s Group closed in December 2023 having operated for seven years as a sanctuary for women who were homeless or vulnerably housed. 

Its existence served as the foundation to holding women’s spaces at Glass Door today, and reaffirmed the importance of having a women’s shelter in our Services.

Sue, Office Manager at Glass Door, talks about her memories of the Women’s Group.  

I really enjoyed taking part in Women’s Group. It was something quite different from my normal working week and I miss it. 

I enjoyed setting up the group each week, trying to make it as much of a welcoming, safe space as it could be for the women who came along.  Hopefully a space where they could just try to relax and even forget about their problems for a short time. You don’t know what their day has been like, so to give the freedom to meet in a safe, warm, welcoming place is important.  

I know some of the women there had suffered from domestic abuse, so hopefully Women’s Group gave them a few hours of respite where they felt acknowledged, valued and cared for. 

I bought nice sandwiches and other refreshments and responding to the women’s requests for certain things like almond milk, oat milk, dairy free soup, herbal tea, etc. The group also gave women the opportunity to use the showers and stock up on toiletries, period products and clothes. The clothing vouchers went down well as they gave women a choice and a shopping experience in the participating shops e.g TRAID. They also got travel tickets, travel card top ups, etc. 

The Women’s Group provided the opportunity to do things they wouldn’t normally be doing in their current situation e.g arts and crafts, playing games, listening to music etc (some women would sing along!), engaging and laughing. We did quite a bit of laughing especially when those who knew how to knit or crochet tried to teach those who didn’t i.e. me; or everyone watching when the Jenga tower in a game got very high. 

These were very normal, fun things but different I imagine to the things going on in their lives. 

Quite a few of the women that came were regulars, which was nice as it meant they must have enjoyed it. As the women got to know each other it became quite a social, chatty place.  It was nice to see women who had met at the group or in the shelters arriving together; they had obviously met friends there or at the shelters. 

It was lovely to see the women who attended come out of their shell, as we all got to know each other. I remember one young woman who came to the group for the first time: she was very quiet, which was fine as no-one was forced to be sociable (there were tables away from the activities tables where women could sit quietly on their own if they wanted to). I asked if she would like to play Jenga with me and told her I was hard to beat, being the ‘Jenga Master’. She had never played before, and she got really into playing it and we laughed a lot. It was lovely to see her come back each week and also develop a real interest and skill in embroidery; she did some amazing craft & artwork (which we put on the wall).  She became really sociable and engaging despite her life being very difficult. She said she really enjoyed coming to the group each week and that she would miss it whenever it was closed for the holidays. 

We would celebrate International Women’s Day and decorate the hall and buy cupcakes. At Easter we painted eggs and had hot cross buns. At Christmas we gave them shoe boxes with kind messages in made by school children, containing some amazing gifts like gloves, socks, face products, make up, etc. The women were genuinely surprised when we gave them out and they were gratefully received as they weren’t expecting any presents. It was a good feeling to see them smile and feel valued, as Christmas/holiday times would be difficult and lonely times for the majority of the women who came to the group.   

Maybe it made Women’s Group a place where they could come to sometimes have a bit of a ‘special’ day.

It was nice to see women who came back grow in confidence and start making their own tea and coffee and asking if anyone else would like one, to see them become really involved and care about the group. One woman brought in some old sweet tins so we could tidy up all the wool. Some women also brought in biscuits each week for everyone to share.  

One woman talked about her family back home who were in an earthquake, others talked about their ex-husbands and children (and other women lent their support). I feel the group really gave an opportunity for women to talk about shared experiences or anything that was going on in their lives at that time. It was lovely to see women from all different cultures and nationalities connect over a variety of activities like painting, drawing, crocheting and knitting.